Yesterday a friend showed me a FStoppers video where Lee Morris makes a whole photo shoot with an iPhone, instead of a DSLR. Not really going into the merit of the video, Lee loves to create polemics everywhere, but into this concept.
The same way that is the cook that makes the food not the pans, is the photographer and not the camera. They (pans and cameras) are tools! The art happens inside the artist’s mind.
Give Joe McNally a smartphone and you’ll have a great picture and give a layman a top camera and you’ll still won’t have something to work with. Lee’s video (see below) just proves that, in my opinion. He mentions that “with a phone he can make better images that the majority of what is seen online”, and with the amount of bad images online nowadays, this should not be very hard for a professional like him :-)
The other side of the same coin is that there’s a proper tool for each task. It’s probably pretty hard to make soup in a frying pan.
To shoot sports, for example, you need a fast lens and a camera with a high frames per second rate. The fast lens will give you a fast shutter speed that freezes the action, even indoors, and gives you this subject-background separation so that you can clearly see what the image is about. The high frames rate will allow you to burst shoot and make sure you don’t miss the “peak of the action”. With a camera with a slow frame rate (not even saying with a phone) capturing the best moment becomes a matter of luck. It can be done, but not always. Using a slow lens will not blurry the background enough to make your subject pop. This nice shallow depth of field without the proper lens … not going to happen.
Same applies to shooting a wedding, a low light situation, without the proper equipment (fast lens, low noise camera), just doesn’t happen properly. Even worse if you need to trigger strobes, for example. Surely not feasible with a phone. Even an environmental portrait, a fast lens makes all the difference to get rid of the details in the background.
Just some of examples where the gear is part of what you want as final result.
Also the appearance for the job. For the client, your gear is as important as your clothes when you show up for a gig. It sells your image and gives security to the customer about the quality of your work, even if only a psychological effect. Show up with a smartphone to shoot a wedding, even if it’s a magical one, it won’t save you from the bridezilla.
Smartphones, though, have pretty much killed point-and-shoot cameras. You barely see one in the streets anymore.
I’m pretty happy with my DSLR and lenses, despite using more and more the phone for social media stuff.
And you? What do you shoot with?